Promoting Entrepreneurship or Child Labour By ORDIA Akelo

Moi University has since established itself as a reputable learning institution and it will soon be marking 30 years of existence. A university in this area has been godsend to members of the community in every sense of the word. Having an institution of higher learning in their midst meant economic and social empowerment for their members. The moment it was declared a site for a university, the value of land within and around increased immensely. The people around could now have something to refer to whenever they told their children to work hard and make it to the university, not to mention the numerous business and

employment opportunities it created.

 

All this is good and necessary for the development of any society and it should be welcomed any time. Its goodness however stops where our children are dragged into the picture, and not in mentoring them to get to the university kind of way. It is a common sight to see children ranging from six to their early teens seated along paths leading to the school of engineering from the ‘leafy suburbs’ (K,L and M) and they are hard to miss on Saturdays on your way to ‘Mabs’. They display their wares usually sweets, biscuits and roasted peanuts either in plastic trays, buckets or spread on a ‘gunia’ on the ground. Some have upped their game; they boldly meet you halfway across the path and beg you to buy something with wide eyed innocence.

 

I may not know the reason or the story behind every child that occupies a spot on those paths every evening and during the weekend. It may be that they are young enterprising business people looking for a quick buck in a seemingly thriving environment or it could be a pastime. More sadly, they might have been sent by their parents to hustle in the ever growing Kenyan economy that may have forced every member of the family regardless of age to go out and search for something to bring to the table. Whatever the case, I know that this is wrong. Let our children be children.

 

What is our role in all this? Those children are there because we are willing buyers. We buy either for necessity or out of sheer pity. I however want you to think about it, how was your childhood? Most of us came from school in the evening, dropped our bags and changed into our playing clothes then ran off to play. Boys rolled their ‘tyres’ while the girls played ‘kati’ or ‘kalongolongo’.

What would it be like if those memories were replaced by evenings of walking around hawking sweets and biscuits? The more we continue to buy from them, the more children we put on the paths thus placing us on the receiving end of child labour. Just think about it.

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